MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a busy morning in the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management as personnel took part in a Category 3 Hurricane simulation. This year’s hypothetical hurricane was named “Gispert” and it was simulated to test state and county emergency management offices.
But it also had another important function this year, to test state and local workers who would have to react to the possibility of a major hurricane striking the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention the last week of August, right in the midst of hurricane season.
Even though the Tampa area has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1921, officials are preparing for the worst, whether it be from a hurricane or another disaster.
The convention is being held in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It’s an area that would have to be evacuated if winds exceed 96 mph. If a storm was barreling towards Tampa and it had to be evacuated, emergency management officials would not only have to deal with evacuating the general population, but also an estimated 70,000 additional visitors, delegates, and journalists at the convention.
Bryan Koon, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, which is conducting the Hurricane Gispert drill, said the exercise — named after a retired Hillsborough County emergency official — was designed to prepare the system for a worst-case scenario. It’s designed to test how Emergency Management officials will react to a storm’s landfall and potential flooding, damage, evacuations and deaths.
The statewide hurricane exercise continues through Thursday.